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Calif. lawmakers put constitutional amendment protecting abortion on ballot

Calif. lawmakers put constitutional amendment protecting abortion on ballot
Abortion rights activists wave signs and banners on the Wilshire overpass overlooking the 110 Freeway at a "Stop Abortion Bans" rally in Los Angeles on May 21, 2019. File Photo by Chris Chew/UPI | License Photo

June 27 (UPI) -- The California Assembly on Monday voted overwhelmingly to approve a bill putting a proposal enshrining abortion rights into the state constitution on the ballot in November.

In the wake of Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade, Assembly members voted 58-16 to pass SCA 10, which places a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing state residents "a fundamental right to choose to have an abortion" before voters.

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The proposed amendment states, "The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual's reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives."

The measure was first introduced in California's heavily Democratic legislature by Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins in May, following the leaked draft of the Roe vs. Wade opinion suggesting the high court would overturn the 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide.

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The bill is part of an expansion of legislative efforts in Democratic-controlled statehouses seeking to preserve abortion rights even as the court decision triggered immediate or likely future abortion bans in 26 other states.

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Currently, abortion rights in California are codified in state law, but supporters said the attacks on abortion access elsewhere demonstrated the need for a constitutional amendment.

"The criminalization of abortion will lead to countless tragic personal consequences for women," Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said before the vote. "We know from history that abortion bans don't end abortion -- they only outlaw safe abortion.

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"We must preserve the fundamental reproductive rights of women here in California because they are under attack elsewhere," he added.

"For the first time in my life, the Supreme Court told me I was a second-class citizen," said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, Calif., and leader of the chamber's women's caucus. "I'm proud to live in California, where doing the right thing is always in style."

The vote came after California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week signed legislation seeking to protect patients and providers from anti-abortion laws in other states.

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The law shields people in the state from civil liability for providing, aiding or receiving abortion care in an attempt to counter measures in states such as Missouri, which are advancing proposals allowing citizens to sue residents who obtain or facilitate abortions in other states.

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